This study aims to provide evidence on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted chronic disease care in diverse settings across Asia. Cross-sectional surveys were conducted to assess the health, social, and economic consequences of the pandemic in India, China, Hong Kong, Korea, and Vietnam using standardized questionnaires.
Overall, 5672 participants with chronic conditions were recruited from 5 countries. The mean age of the participants ranged from 55.9 to 69.3 years. A worsened economic status during the COVID-19 pandemic was reported by 19% to 59% of the study participants. Increased difficulty in accessing care was reported by 8% to 24% of participants, except Vietnam: 1.6%. The worsening of diabetes symptoms was reported by 5.6% to 14.6% of participants, except Vietnam: 3%. In multivariable regression analyses, increasing age, female participants, and worsened economic status were suggestive of increased difficulty in access to care, but these associations mostly did not reach statistical significance. In India and China, rural residence, worsened economic status and self-reported hypertension were statistically significantly associated with increased difficulty in access to care or worsening of diabetes symptoms.
These findings suggest that the pandemic disproportionately affected marginalized and rural populations in Asia, negatively affecting population health beyond those directly suffering from COVID-19.